Author(s): Janjan NA, Weissman DE, Pahule A
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Abstract This study evaluated the response to a defined mouth care and analgesic treatment protocol for oropharyngeal mucositis in patients undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck carcinoma. Nineteen patients completed a 15 question pain survey before each radiation treatment. Patients were given instructions on the use of mouthwashes and a three-step analgesic protocol: acetaminophen, acetaminophen with codeine suspension, and oral morphine (20 mg/mL) for mild, moderate, and severe pain, respectively. Patients were seen daily by a radiation therapy nurse who reviewed the survey and prompt changes in the prescribed analgesic regimen were then made by a physician. Marked differences in control of pain related to radiation mucositis were observed when compared to patients from our prior study who used the same daily survey but had only sporadic nursing intervention and no analgesic protocol. Patients having daily nursing intervention reported fewer days of moderate/severe pain, had less pain throughout the day, and noted less disturbance in sleep, eating, and energy level. Weight loss of greater than 5 kg was noted in only three patients. Analgesics were used on 77\% of treatment days and relieved all or most of the pain in 94\% of these days. Daily review of a symptom survey by a radiation therapy nurse, combined with a well-defined strategy for mouth care, and analgesics results in improved pain management of radiation induced oropharyngeal mucositis because of prompt attention to patient needs. Future trials should incorporate defined strategies for oral care and analgesic use to control for possible bias in assessing efficacy.
This article was published in Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys
and referenced in Journal of Trauma & Treatment